Social Media is Forever: How it Helps Physicians Educate and Connect With Patients

flckr: woodleywonderworks

flckr: woodleywonderworks

Dr. Jeff Livingston, OB/GYN, is hooked on social media.

As I explained in a previous blogpost, Livingston jumped onto My Space when his teenager daughter told him that would help him reach out to teenagers facing pregnancy and STDs, and he never looked back.

Why? Because, he says, “social media makes your life easier and the care you provide better.”

How? It has to do with the long life of online information. Here’s how Livingston explains it:

Americans want to engage online about their health

Studies show that “Americans in general want to engage online about their health, but they’re recognizing that what they’re finding may not be real, or validated or actionable.

“It’s real important that doctors get involved in getting good content online,” continues Livingston. “That might be writing a blog once a week, creating short YouTube video clips or it might be creating more dynamic content on your website and promoting your website as the first place to get information.

Good health content connects you outside the office

“If I’m providing good health content online that’s available and accessible to my patients, in a lot of ways we’re still connecting outside the office. Even though I did work at an earlier time, that work is still there.

“If I write a nice summary about a birth control method or surgical procedure, that patient is still interacting with me and the way I talk and the way I explain things. That’s available outside of our time in the room. And that has a lot of value.

“I can invest a small amount of time now and benefit a large number of patients over time.”

What do you see when you Google your name or practice?

Livingston says that he often finds that doctors are very surprised at what they see when they Google their name or Google their practice.

“Whether or not you choose to get involved in social media, you still have a digital footprint. You still have an online reputation, but now it’s getting created about you and for you without you having any say in the matter. When you engage online you are creating your own online reputation and your own digital footprint.”

The importance of adding value

“The key to successful social media is adding value,” says Livingston. “Think about a company Facebook page you like – maybe your favorite TV show.

“They tell you something extra about the character,” Livingston points out. “Or they provide an extra two minutes of footage from the show, or something interesting about the actor who plays the character. They’re adding value. They’re not just saying watch our show.

“Just like people do with non-healthcare things they enjoy, they interact with health care hospitals and clinics that bring them value and they tune out the ones who market to them.”

Coming next:

  • People get it: Why you shouldn’t worry much about negative comments and HIPAA violations.

How we help

Hive Strategies helps health systems create HIPAA-compliant online communities for better health, lower costs and greater loyalty.

1 reply
  1. Mediclinic Mike
    Mediclinic Mike says:

    Social media is a great way for physicians to engage their patients on a more meaningful (and perhaps more personal) level and I think you’re right in saying that the key is adding value to the services you provide through it. If patients see their doctor as an engaging and knowledgeable person online, it can only serve to bolster interest in them at a professional level.


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